Francis Frith collaborated with a lecturer and scholar of antiquities at the British Museum, Reginald Poole, and with Poole’s mother, Sophia, to produce this mammoth album of photographs. It is interesting that at the same time, Sophia’s brother Edward W. Lane (1801-1876), a scholar of Oriental linguistics, was working with Reginald on an illustrated edition of the Arabian Nights (The Thousand and One Nights, a new translation from the Arabic, with copious notes by Edward William Lane; illustrated … by William Harvey; edited by his nephew Edward Stanley Poole, 1859. Rare Books (Ex) 2263.2869).
Interesting photographs from the late 1800s. It was photographs like these that first got me interested in exotic places and ruined buildings. I doubt, however, that they have the same impact nowadays that they had when they first saw the light of day. In those days only a privileged few would ever have viewed such sights.
Nowadays with relatively cheap air travel, the ubiquity of cameras, movies etc. pretty much everyone knows what these countries look like. This in turn raises the question: are these truly good photographs, or did their fame come largely from their novelty? Such photographs had such an influence on me when I was young that I am certainly biased and can’t give an objective opinion on this.